March 18, 2016 Last Updated 8:41 am

SEC rejects attempt by Amazon to prevent a shareholder vote on gender pay; NPR says no on-air promotion of podcasts

Morning Brief: PBS NewsHour adds ‘Editor’s Note’ to report on North Carolina family that supports Donald Trump after report failed to mention the obvious white supremacist tattoos on one of the family members

The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) has rejected an attempt by Amazon to keep a resolution demanding that the company close the gender pay gap from a shareholder vote.

Genderpay-400Arjuna Capital, the activist arm of investment firm Baldwin Brothers Inc, had submitted the proposed resolution to Amazon and seven other tech companies, including Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and E-Bay. Apple and Intel have already committed to new efforts to close the gender pay gap.

“The excellent moves by Intel and now Apple on gender pay equity means that the clock is ticking for the rest of America’s major technology companies,” Natasha Lamb, director of equity research and shareholder engagement, at Arjuna Capital said in early March. ” Silicon Valley can no longer claim this is an issue unworthy of its attention. Gender pay equity is critical to creating a diverse and innovative workforce and tech companies cannot sit this discussion out – they have to speak up for fair pay.”

Amazon fought the resolution and asked the SEC to reject it.

“We are unable to conclude that the proposal is so inherently vague or indefinite that neither the shareholders voting on the proposal, nor the company in implementing the proposal, would be able to determine with any reasonable certainty exactly what actions or measures the proposal requires,” said Ryan Adams, Staff Attorney at the SEC. “Accordingly, we do not believe that Amazon may omit the proposal from its proxy materials in reliance on rule 14a-8(i)(3).”

Both NPR and PBS have received their share of condemnation from journalists this week.

NPR has come out with new rules on mentioning podcasts in its reports. The new guidelines are that on-air reports can mention that the person who is reporting or spoke has a podcast, but prohibits any “call to action” regarding downloading the podcast.

“As podcasts grow in number and popularity we are talking about them more often in our news programs,” said Chris Turpin, V.P. for news programming and operations “We are also fielding more and more questions from news staff and Member stations about our policies for referring to podcasts on air.”

Turpin then spells out what is permissible:

– No Call to Action:We won’t tell people to actively download a podcast or where to find them. No mentions of, iTunes, Stitcher, NPR One, etc.


“That’s Linda Holmes of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast and our blogger on the same subject and Bob Mondello, NPR’s film critic. Thanks so much.


“OK, everyone. You can download Alt.Latino from iTunes and, of course, via the NPR One app.

– Informational, not Promotional: When referring to podcasts, and the people who host, produce, or contribute to them, we will mention the name of the podcast but not in a way that explicitly endorses it. References should not specifically promote the content of the podcast (e.g., “This week, the Politics Podcast team digs into delegate math.”) If you feel a podcast title needs explaining (e.g. Hidden Brain), some additional language can be added (e.g., “That’s Shankar Vedantam, he hosts a podcast that explores the unseen patterns of human behavior. It’s called, Hidden Brain” ). Just to repeat: Be creative in how you back announce podcasts, but please avoid outright promotion.

“In other words, NPR can’t promote NPR One — the lauded, loved app that is basically the future of NPR — to what is literally the group of people that would be most interested in it, NPR radio listeners. NPR is investing substantially in developing podcasts — but it isn’t allowed to tell radio listeners where to find them or how they can listen to them,” wrote Joshua Benton of Nieman Lab.

PBS, meanwhile, is dealing with some serious blowback to a feature that ran on the PBS NewsHour about a family of Donald Trump supporters in North Carolina. The report featured members of the Tilly family who said they were formerly Democrats but are now Trump supporters – with one member of the family, Grace, working a phone bank for the candidate.

Trump-tattoosThe problem was that the televised report failed to mention something pretty obvious to viewers and journalists who watch the segment: Grace Tilly had white supremacist tattoos on her hands and arms – and as you can see, they are quite visible. Despite this, the reporter never asked her about them.

But Gawker, Talking Points Memo, Salon and others did. This led to an editor’s note being added to the website post of the PBS NewsHour segment.

Editor’s Note: In our report Tuesday night on a North Carolina family that’s supporting Donald Trump, we were continuing a long NewsHour tradition of talking directly to voters.

We want to hear from them, in their own voices, speaking about what motivates their political preferences.

Regrettably, none of us at the NewsHour recognized the questions that could arise from Grace Tilly’s tattoos, and we didn’t raise them with her until after the report aired. At that point, our producer contacted Ms. Tilly and she insisted the tattoos are religious in nature and have nothing to do with a neo-Nazi theme or white supremacy.

We referenced her comments in an editor’s note, posted on our website.

Many of our online commenters have since let us know they reject that explanation. We’re now posting this note as a follow up.

We at the NewsHour remain committed to being as transparent as possible in covering this election.